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TECHNOLOGYFebruary 2012 . www.conference-news.co.uk . 35 The challenge. WSP is a global engineering consultancy that practices in multiple disciplines within its sector.. WSP is represented in 35 countries with 200 offi ces. After previous annual conferences in a single location WSP wanted to deliver a comparable event that was innovative in its approach in being able to provide 'real' engagement among its delegates while saving money and supporting its green credentials through reducing travel and accommodation to virtually zero.. The experience for attendees needed to appreciate WSP in all its magnitude and raise awareness and understanding of its group strategy. It needed to provide a unique opportunity to initiate and strengthen global cooperation within the company.The brief. Design, launch and manage an internal International Virtual Conference for WSP to provide an experiential forum for members to assess and 'live' a virtual solution.. Design an event that showcases a variety of appropriate and relevant virtual platforms to successfully deliver "purpose driven, strong content" and engender real engagement.. Integrate customised event host analytics modules to ensure 100 per cent measurability, insight and ROI.. Integrate social media and networking tools to enable the development of a WSP community.. Create a distinctive, visually engaging and easy to use solution.. Design an event where 250+ participants from seven countries can simultaneously participate.. Ensure there is content afterburn and visitor engagement for up to six months after the event.The solutionVirtual ivent designed and delivered:. Customised visitor registration interface with timezone recognition and individual seminar RSVP system.. Replicated the WSP London HQ as a high fi delity 3D lobby so that all visitors would instantly recognise where they were when they accessed the event.. Interactive event reception with virtual lifts to the live auditoriums, networking lounge and resource centre.. Dual live presentation auditoriums and an archive auditorium for all delivered content made available on demand.. Multi-functional networking lounge with interactive live chat, message boards, blogs and polls.. Dynamic resource centre where visitors could upload, review and download event content while participating in the conference.. Interactive and dynamic timetable allowing visitors to teleport to relevant parts of the event by clicking on the various time slots. Customised event analytics including visitor participation statistics, seminar attendance, venue attendance and traffi c fl ow in the event.. Animated venue changeover sequence.. Interactive announcement bar keeping guests up to date with live news also allowing guest to click into 'of the moment' events as they occurred giving a totally live feel and experience to conference goers.The event, the aftermath. The event had over 260 participants from 14 different WSP offi ces in seven countries. The USA, Finland, Ireland, USA, Australia, India, Dubai and the UK all participated.. 42 live presentations were delivered representing 34 hours of content in total given by 43 different presenters in a 42 hour period.. All live content was made available in the ondemand auditorium within 60 seconds of it fi nishing.. Virtual Ivent provided 24-hour support over the event micromanaging every aspect of the show including running each presentation individually from its offi ces in the UK.. WSP saved over 50 per cent of its usual costs for running this event by delivering it virtually.. A signifi cant contribution to reducing the WSP carbon footprint was also achieved. Case Study: WSPVirtual ivent designed, launched and managed an international virtual conference for WSP

36 . www.conference-news.co.uk . February 2012October TOP TIPSThese guidelines offer top-line tips to both agency and corporate bookers to ensure that they anticipate the needs of speakers and delegates and maximise any venue in-house IT provisions. Speaker1. Understand what your speaker requires in terms of ITIs it a simple PowerPoint presentation or does it have video embedded into it? Does the speaker need access to the web to conduct an online demonstration? 2. How will the speaker receive questions?Will social media be engaged? In which case, make sure there is a delay on questions appearing and be very prepared for candid questions! Delegates3. What is the bandwidth of the venue?Do be mindful that delegates will all want to check emails throughout the day, therefore ensure that there is suffi cient bandwidth for the number of delegates in attendance. 4. Is social media being used as part of the event?An infl ux of delegates tweeting questions to the main speaker can have a dramatic impact on the Wi-Fi.Encourage the use of a hashtag so that you can keep a track of delegate feedback and the general tone of the audience. 5. Streaming media - is this open access or is it a closed site? Bear in mind the ramifi cations of intellectual property and privacy rights. Also be prepared for up to 70 per cent of the audience using their PDA to view the event as opposed to looking directly at the speaker. 6. Are all common sites, required on the day, such as Twitter, YouTube, WordPress, Google Docs, accessible?Public sector organisations sometimes block these sites, so make sure there will be no nasty surprises and ensure you have administrator access to check that the coast is clear. Venue7. Is the Wi-Fi free?Without doubt bear in mind that free is not a guarantee of quality or size of bandwidth. Invest in the IT infrastructure - any issues will have huge ramifi cations on the whole event. 8. Encrypt your W-FiJust as you will have ensured that your conference is not held in the same venue as a competitor, make sure that you do not label your Wi-Fi network the name of your company. Always use an alpha numerical password and the best encryption possible. 9. Make sure you know who the IT contact is on the dayIf it is the AV person, are they prepared to support a speaker who cannot get online to do a demonstration, or delegates who are unable to access their work emails? Organisers10. Do you plan to work on a computer during the day?If so, you should ensure reliable Wi-Fi access is available in the organiser's offi ce, with a computer powerful enough to handle mass mail-outs if you plan to send out content.The purpose of meetings and events is to get people to engage face-to-face. We are in a transition period whereby conference organisers can benefi t from IT to maximise both delegate retention and also engage with extended audiences across the globe. It is imperative to remember that IT should enhance the event and not to take it over. Events are about face time with colleagues, peers and clients and not worrying about urgent emails which are ready to surprise. By providing reliable networking on site, delegates can monitor and react as appropriate.Maximisingconference face timeLive events technology company Etherlive's Event Director Tom McInerney gives a top 10 guide to help event bookers get to grips with the requisite IT considerations for conferences and meetings